The Only Thing Old is FUD

I’ve gotten some feedback from some Emerson sales people in the different world areas that some fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is being spread about the DeltaV system. The FUD goes that it’s an “old” system.

This was once a very powerful argument before the days that all automation suppliers adopted commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies in their systems. This is because the automation supplier had to design, test and support a greater proportion of the hardware, firmware and software required. This made “playing catch-up” more difficult.

I went and blew the dust off the initial sales binder (back in the days when sales binders were used) to see what the specs were on the Dell PCs used the engineering and operator workstations for the first DeltaV release.

I’m pleased to report the Moore’s Law about functionality doubling every few years is alive and well. Check out these “powerful” specs from 1996:

  • Microprocessor – Pentium, 166Mhz
  • RAM – 32 Mb
  • Cache – 256 Kb
  • Drives -4X CDROM, 3.5-inch floppy, 1 Gb Hard Drive
  • Operating System – Microsoft Windows NT 3.51
  • Ports – 1 Parallel, 2 Serial, 1 or 2 10BaseT Ethernet
  • PC Options – 28.8 FAX modem
  • Display Resolution – 1024 x 768

Wow, my Mobil PC phone has more processing power and storage.

Today’s DeltaV workstations are continuously updated based on the latest configurations from Dell. Right now, they are at 2.33 GHz Core Duo Intel microprocessors, 2 Gb RAM, 80 Gb hard disks, etc.

If your plant has DeltaV v1 software on the original hardware, it is indeed old. If you’re running the current version, v9.3, you’ll see something completely different. The first is the growth in capacity. It grew from 500 I/O in its initial release to a size that is currently operating:

Across the 10 plants and utilities there are over 48 000 control loops, with about 166 000 I/O tags and around 25 000 points hardwired to the automation system. There are 40 000 instruments and some 13 000 intelligent devices networked in the world’s largest Foundation Fieldbus installation.

A few other things that have been added along the way, taking advantage of Moore’s Law and COTS are embedded advanced control and simulation, integrated batch, Foundation fieldbus and other digital communications busses, safety instrumented systems, and enterprise integration and security.

Version 10 release of the DeltaV software is coming later this year that will add innovations in engineering productivity, hardware performance, wireless connectivity, SIS, operating systems, batch and more.

I share all this because the only thing old is the FUD you may hear.

Update: Welcome readers of the Industrial Automation Insider newsletter. I invite your comments on Andrew Bond’s recap of this post in the newletter’s September 2008 edition. Also, if you’re going to be at Emerson Exchange later this month, make sure to see Andre Dicaire’s presentation on the historical timeline of DeltaV controller improvements. I’ll try to catch this one and blog it for those who can’t join us.

Posted Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 under Technologies.